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Hibbing City Council, union ratify new contract

The Hibbing City Council on Thursday voted in special session to ratify a three-year contract with its public workers, union and city officials said.

The Hibbing City Council on Thursday voted in special session to ratify a three-year contract with its public workers, union and city officials said.

That announcement followed a vote Wednesday by members of AFSCME Local 791 to also accept the agreement, said Steve Giorgi, associate director of AFSCME Council 65.

The contract offers pay that was acceptable to employees along with an increase in insurance premium payments beginning in 2016, Giorgi said in a statement. Both sides agreed to a different health insurance plan, he said.

The contract is retroactive to Jan. 1.

City administrator Tom Dicklich said he was pleased by the agreement.

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"We ended up with a fair contract for both the union and the city," Dicklich said. "We have great workers here. They deserved to get a good contract."

The agreement averted a strike that could have begun as soon as this past Tuesday. Local 791 filed a notice to strike on Jan. 3, after several failed mediation sessions.

Instead, the two sides ironed out their differences in an 11-hour session with a mediator on Friday, Dicklich said.

"We kept working until we hammered out an agreement that was good for both sides," he said.

In his statement, Giorgi noted that this winter's harsh conditions make it all the more important that city employees be on the job.

"Both parties recognized the value of avoiding a labor strike and getting employees back to working overtime," he said.

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